The Musketeer took heavy steps through a field of slowly melting snow. The sun had just come over the walls of Tirr and shadows quickly fled the farmlands. The snow was thick on the ground following a month of storms in the late winter. Tirr was a muddied mess and the city’s elders feared flooding would come for the city well before the return of the King’s Army. The Musketeer cared not for the matters of the city council. His work was to patrol the surrounding fields and forest. He lead a small company of volunteer militia carrying outdated blunderbusses and Coach guns. Terrible weapons for a fight, he knew, but they would have to do until the snow subsided and supplies could be sent to Tirr.
The volunteers followed his tracks, walking single file and matching him step for step. They chattered among themselves, talking of bread making and ice fishing. The Musketeer did not understand their conversation, but enjoyed the company. He was typically solo on these patrols. The fast approaching Spring meant they had to train as many men and women as possible. He was trained by watching others do their work and so he trained the recruits in the same manner.
“Hey, when we actually form the company can we call ourselves the Volun-Tirrs?” A young lady joked. She carried her blunderbuss over her shoulder and a loose bag of ammunition at her belt. Her form was sloppy and careless, but the Musketeer could see beyond that in the name a well timed joke.
“If you wish to form a company within the Resistance you have the ability to name it whatever the group can form consensus on,” the Musketeer replied. He realized his response should have taken on the humorous tone of the young soldier all too late.
“Thank you, Sir,” the soldier responded.
He had never been addressed as sir with such respect. In the King’s army the salutation was granted to him out of fear. The fear was created by his predecessors. Monsters in his eyes. Musketeer was a position within the King’s Army that was shrouded in mystery, but the stories that made it to the enlisted were not flattering. He was glad that none of the resistance fighters seemed to know, or maybe not care, about such tall tales. They followed him for love of cause. He was being followed by people motivated to make positive change, not simply follow orders and avoid a night in the stockades. It was a bizarre time for him.
The patrol walked through fallow farmland that was allowed to fallow when Tirr fell to the resistance. The farmer’s that worked the land were rumored to have been spies for the Royal Court. Even an unfounded rumor of that degree was a likely death sentence in the anti-crown fervor that swept the city. The Musketeer looked at the field and saw all the signs of a quickly abandoned homestead. Snow collected on a plow, a fence was knocked over and the barn doors were wide open. There were not animals about. They were either long since stolen or eaten.
“To the forest, sir?” An older man asked.
“Walk side by side. Don’t walk into trees,” the Musketeer instructed.
They stepped into the forest. Boulders lined the landscape, there would be no running on this terrain. To the south they could just see the row of trees burned in the assault on Tirr weeks prior. The volunteers rumbled about the explosion and relived the fight. The Musketeer scolded the discussion and demanded they not rest on victories past. The only thought they should have is about the next fight.
They walked further into the forest. The walls of Tirr disappeared and farmland seemed like a memory. The trees were dense and covered with snow. Every step seemed to take them underneath a dripping branch and over hidden rocks.
“This terrain does not well suit a fight,” a soldier shouted from the back of the line.
“It is the easiest access for the King. Learn the land and you will take the enemy,” The Musketeer muttered back. The line relayed the message.
The march continued and extended well beyond the assigned perimeter.
“Sir, should we return to the city? The perimeter seems fine,” the shouting soldier asked.
The Musketeer held his fist in the air to stop the line’s progression. The volunteers stopped and raised their blunderbusses, sweeping the land and looking for the King’s soldiers.
“That tree should not have fallen to the ground,” The Musketeer said. He pointed to a grounded tree. It was splintered at the trunk. If the tree had fallen even an hour before it would have been wet at the newly exposed core. It appeared bone dry.
“Ensure you are ready to fire and follow my lead,” The Musketeer said. He pushed aether into his veins and ran to the broken tree. His senses heightened, he heard the sound of a churning gear some hundred yards away. He had heard the churning sound before the night he left his post and joined the resistance. It was the sound of the towering mechanical soldier. He was sure the plans for the droids were destroyed when he first came to Tirr.
He ran to the source of the sound, bounding a dozen yards with each step. He came to a clearing where three gigantic metal soldiers stood facing Tirr. The machines had been upgraded. The armor looked thicker, the cannons were more plentiful and dangerous and the head of the cog-work machine had larger eyes to see its prey with.
The protection of Winter had ended. The Musketeer looked at the three machines and grinned. He was to begin and end the first battle of the Spring with one more step and one battle cry. He screamed and leaped at the machines.
He awoke to the hands of his company of volunteers pulling the shell of a destroyed metal soldier off his body.
“Now we can return to the city,” he said.
Thanks for reading!
Thanks for reading!
Here’s more in this series:
Scouting fields, hitting pockets of the King’s army outside of Tirr. He is leading a battalion of his own now. takes a regiment out at night and in a beet field, it smells bad, wagons and donkeys everywhere. They meet three giant robots in the farmer’s field. Musketeer gets hit lots, aether numbs the pain, robots defeated